Wednesday, April 10, 2024

2024-04-11 Thursday - Book Review: Cracking the Data Science Interview

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Cracking the Data Science Interview: Unlock insider tips from industry experts to master the data science field (Feb 29th, 2024)

by Leondra R Gonzalez (Senior Data & Applied Scientist, Microsoft), and Aaren Stubberfield (Data Scientist, Microsoft)

Review Title:
Packed with valuable guidance: A balanced survey of Data Science with great breadth and depth

Review thoughts:

  • It is difficult for most authors to strike the necessary balance when writing a book that covers so much ground - but this book achieves this quite well.
  • This book is well written - and earns the accolade I reserve for just a few books: Crisp!
  • The content is very well structured
  • The authors approach to teaching is actionable - with concrete skill building examples.
  • This book provides a good outline for helping people identifying gaps in their skills/knowledge
  • There are great suggestions for the reader to further explore various topics (versus overburdening the focused goals of the book)
  • Chapter-3 is a fast paced introduction to Python - and provides concise examples to gives the reader immediate skills in writing Python code.
  • One of the most important techniques the book teaches is covered in the section "Applying scenario-based storytelling".
  • Chapter-9's coverage of Feature Engineering is noteworthy for being well done in conveying the concepts with easy to understand examples.  
  • The illustrations are very nicely done.
  • code examples are concise, focused, and well explained.
  • The "when to use" and companion "tips" sections are very nice touches - that help the reader understand not just the WHAT and HOW, but also the WHY.
  • The "Assessment" and companion "Answer" sections are a great teaching technique to challenge the reader - and provide immediate guidance to clarify/correct any potential misunderstandings.
  • In Part-3, the discussion of "Assumptions", "Common Pitfalls", and the associated "Implement Example" entries - ARE WORTH THE PRICE OF THE BOOK ALONE.
  • Any manager or developer - will benefit from using this book's broad survey of topics - to expand their understanding of Data Science concepts and techniques.
  • As an architect, I learned quite a bit of useful Data Science concepts/techniques by working my way through this book.
  • If someone carefully worked their way through the full contents of this book - I believe they would have a good foundation established in preparing for a Data Science interview.

Suggestions for the next edition:

  • Create a "Data Science Awesome Jobs Board List" GitHub repository, as a companion to the book.
  • Add a new chapter to discuss common anti-patterns in data science.
  • Performance trade-offs/considerations would also be some very important information to perhaps consider adding in a next edition.
  • An Appendix of Suggested Reading/Books might be helpful (for example, in chapter-3, p-59, while text mining and NLP are noted as outside of the scope of the book - it is an important area of Data Science - and it would be helpful for the next edition to include some suggested books on topics that are designated outside of the book's scope).
  • On page-331, it would be helpful to also mention the recent open source fork of Terraform - OpenTofu.

There is one critical caution missing in "Part 3: Exploring Artificial Intelligence", "Chapter-11 Building Networks with Deep Learning" (for example, on page-317, in the section: "Introducing GenAI and LLMs"):
Any discussion of GenAI __MUST__ caution on the very real risks of hallucination and confabulation.


Tuesday, March 05, 2024

2024-03-05 Tuesday - Professional Services Consulting - Utilization Rates

[image credit: kolyaeg on]

In the world of Professional Services Consulting, I learned some interesting heuristics, several decades ago, that have stood the test of time.

(these are based on long-term sustainable planning models...)

If you build the financial model for your practice around an assumption of a utilization rate of:

60%: Your firm has a good chance to survive & thrive - even in the lean times. You won't make as much money - and you won't be able to pay your personnel top rates. But you will have the advantage of long-term continuity - while others disappear.

70%: Your firm will experience wider swings in unplanned reductions-in-force. This will impact morale, training costs, client satisfaction, and retention.

80%+: You'll be able to pay your personnel higher rates, and provide a lot of nice benefits - but your firm will experience increased levels of staff turn-over, and burn-out. Decreased retention will affect morale. Increased client account churn will damage the bottom line. In the lean times, your company will be decimated by reductions-in-force.

95%+: You are on the highway to hell. You are in the "sweatshop" business (or, indentured servitude). 🤣

110%+: Your business model is fundamentally based on abuse of your personnel.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

2024-02-29 Thursday - Research Papers - Composing Words Like Music

[image credit: niekverlaan on]

Burning the midnight oil tonight, to put the finishing touches on a client research paper.

Research skills - honed over decades - allowing me to quickly develop deep insights into a new subject-matter area, surveying relevant domain literature, assembling analysis of the choices, alternatives, pros and cons, developing an understanding of the forces/constraints that touch on both the business and technical aspects, highlighting the key issues/considerations - and summarizing the information succinctly so that an executive can make a decision.

It is something like a duality of both composing & performing a piece of music. There is an art to creating a balance, a symmetry, and composing the threads of different movements - into a piece of work that hits just the right notes.


Sunday, February 25, 2024

2024-02-25 Sunday - Understanding Quantum Technologies 2023, Sixth Edition

 Understanding Quantum Technologies 2023, Sixth edition (1,366 pages)

"Understanding Quantum Technologies 2023 is a creative-commons ebook that provides a unique 360 degrees overview of quantum technologies from science and technology to geopolitical and societal issues. It covers quantum physics history, quantum physics 101, gate-based quantum computing, quantum computing engineering (including quantum error corrections and quantum computing energetics), quantum computing hardware (all qubit types, including quantum annealing and quantum simulation paradigms, history, science, research, implementation and vendors), quantum enabling technologies (cryogenics, control electronics, photonics, components fabs, raw materials), unconventional computing (potential alternatives to quantum and classical computing), quantum telecommunications and cryptography, quantum sensing, quantum computing algorithms, software development tools and use cases, quantum technologies around the world, quantum technologies societal impact and even quantum fake sciences. The main audience are computer science engineers, developers and IT specialists as well as quantum scientists and students who want to acquire a global view of how quantum technologies work, and particularly quantum computing. This version is an update to the 2022 and 2021 editions published respectively in October 2022 and October 2021. An update log is provided at the end of the book."

Saturday, February 24, 2024

2024-02-24 Saturday - Interop 2024 Dashboard

Interop 2024 Dashboard

VERY Interesting - compare the compatibility score differences between Stable and Experimental
Stable scores (2024-02-24)
Experimental scores (2024-02-24)

Saturday, February 10, 2024

2024-02-10 Saturday - Today's Meditation: Impact of -/+ Two Standard Deviation Hiring Decisions


[image credit: Dimitris Vetsikas on]


Sometimes, I think the practical implications of the difference in hiring decisions...between hiring someone that is two Standard Deviations to the left of the mean vs. two Standard Deviations to the right - is lost on those responsible for hiring. This is not limited to a single dimension of measurement - it is meant in the context of the broader assessment of the individual: skills, capabilities, insights, intuition, experience, etc.

The phrase: "False Economy" comes to mind...

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

2024-01-24 Wednesday - Signs You Might Be On A Death March Project

[image credit: hgenthe on]


Today's meditation:

Signs you might be on a "Death March" project...

  • Scope increases by a multiple [n] (where [n] > 1, and [n] is quite often an integer), but time and resources stay the same.
  • The number of REQUIRED [r] productive hours that must be expended per day, to maintain the schedule, is greater than AVAILABLE hours [a]: where the number of MANDATORY [m] hours spent in meetings - is subtracted from the possible WORKING hours [w]...

Such that, [a] = [w] - [m], and [r] > [a], with [a] approaching zero, as TIME [t] progresses.


Other possible signs...

  • Management cancels all vacations through the end of the year.
  • Management mandates staff must work weekends.
  • Management states that working 4am-9pm is expected
  • When there are no more slots available between 8am-6pm - meetings begin to be scheduled at 7am, 6am, 5am, 4am...or 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, ...
  • You find  yourself regularly working at 1am to complete status reports (2 days after they are due) - because that is the only time period you could find, where you had sufficient capacity to focus on that task... 
  • You don't have any time to perform QA on the work that is being performed.
  • The work products being produced are a [3] on a [1-10] scale - due to lack of sufficient time to do quality work.
  • Management refuses to accept the estimates provided by staff - and simply picks delivery dates. 
  • There is no time to do actual work - because staff are in meetings 90%+ of the time. 
  • There is no "Think Time"
  • There is no reserve capacity in the team to handle spikes in demand.
  • New work is continually being added - with no additional time, or resources, added. 
  • You spend more time in status meetings, than in working meetings. 
  • Requirements are constantly changing - with no additional time, or resources, added. 
  • The Gantt chart looks like a wall of logs stacked to the ceiling, with the finish dates all aligning on the right side - and everything is showing GREEN...until the last minute, and then suddenly goes RED.
  • Workload is projected to increase by 400%, and yet 75% of staff is to be eliminated.
  • You don't have time to eat breakfast.
  • You don't have time to eat lunch.
  • You don't have time for any exercise. 
  • You don't have time during working hours for bio breaks.
  • Frequently there is zero slack time between meetings - all day long. 
  • Management has purposefully understaffed the team - and expects the team will work nights and weekends (as a standard operating model) - to make-up for the capacity shortfall.


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